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Android Browser Roundup: Dolphin vs. Stock

Android Browser Roundup: Dolphin vs. Stock

There has been more and more discussion about Android Browsers with the relatively recent addition of Dolphin Browser to the Android Market.  There has long been the option of Steel Browser, but it never really caught on.  Here, we want to give you a comparative analysis of the Dolphin and Stock Browsers.  We’ll give you the solution we like the most, but ultimately it will come down to what you need and consider valuable in your browser app.

Dolphin Browser Pros/Cons:
Pros
  • Multi-touch enabled, including enhanced pinch-zoom (2.0+ Android devices only)
  • Gestures
  • Visual bookmarks
  • Windows tabbed browsing
  • Swipe left/right to scroll through open windows
  • Highly functional start page
  • Option to download YouTube videos
  • Themes
  • RSS detection and subscription
  • Save link to ‘read it later’
  • Save cache/history to SD card
  • Long press ‘back’ button to clear cache and exit
Cons
  • Slower than Stock Browser
  • Ads!
  • No double tap zoom (double tap toggles tab view)
  • Bulky/ugly tabs
  • No location detection
Dolphin Browser Overview:


Pros Discussion:

The amount of options/features that Dolphin Browser offers is exceptional.  There is something to be said about a Browser that gives you such an advanced level of control.

The multi-touch capabilities of Dolphin Browser are a great addition that make many Apple (and non-Apple) converted Android users giddy.  Multi-touch inevitably makes you think pinch-zoom (which is also a fan favorite) and this feature has been improved in updates and is now quite functional.  Because I only have my trusty G1, I wasn’t able to test these features directly, but it’s been widely reported/commented on.
What is considerably the most innovative and functional aspect of Dolphin Browser is the Gestures.  To access Gestures, either hit Menu, or long-press the screen.  Gestures allows you to execute common commands using letters/shapes drawn on the screen.  Some Gestures come preset in the browser (but these can be changed) and others need to be set if you plan on using them.  For example, you can set Gestures for adding a bookmark, enabling ‘find’ on a page, creating a new tab, selecting text, sharing, and more.  Gestures increase your efficiency in the browser by allowing you to accomplish tasks in less clicks/time.
Your start page can be accessed by hitting Menu > Home symbol.  Here you will find your most visited sites, bookmarks, Google services, read it later list, Del.icio.us list, and Dolphin contact info.  This is a convenient place to start your web browsing as much of your pertinent (and personlized) content is found here.
Another extremely useful feature offered by Dolphin Browser is the clear the cache and exit option.  In order to execute this option, long-press the ‘back’ button.  This protects your privacy by clearing history and saved information, while also saving space on your phone/SD card.
Here are a few more screenshots of the features listed in the pros section bulleted above.
Cons Discussion:
The most prominent comment and drawback to the Dolphin Browser (as compared to the Stock Browser) is its slightly slower speed/response time.  The speed difference itself isn’t a deal-breaker and won’t really frustrate you, however it is there.  With all the features and additions, it’s expected that it might not run just as smoothly as the much more streamlined (and feature-light) Stock Browser.
The most frustrating drawback to Dolphin Browser is the ads!  There isn’t much to say here except that no one wants to see ads taking away space from websites they are visiting.  (Note to the developer: I’m sure users would pay for an ad-free version, make it happen!)
Additionally, the lack of location detection negates some features that are quite convenient like the ‘Near Me Now’ feature as well as other convenient search/directions options.
Lastly, there is no double tap zoom.  For Android 2.0+ users this may not be a real issue, but for people “stuck” with Android 1.5 and 1.6 and no pinch-zoom, this can be frustrating.  There are still the options of zooming by long-pressing the page or by enabling the original zoom ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons, but it’s not quite the same.
Stock Browser Discussion:
Because so many of you started with using the Stock Browser from day 1, I won’t bore you with the pros/cons that I’m sure you’re already familiar with.

However, some short explanations are required.  First and foremost, all of the cons listed for the Dolphin Browser are actually the biggest pros for the Stock Browser.  Among other benefits, some of the biggest ones are speed, double tap zoom, ad-free, and location detection.  The Stock Browser also brings greater stability and integration features that are important for a quality browser.  Furthermore, certain Android phones like the HTC Hero also have multi-touch capabilities which is important to remember when comparing the two browsers.

Conclusions:
After using both of these browsers extensively, it’s become even more apparent that they are extremely different.  Before downloading Dolphin Browser, I figured it would be easy to pick a clearcut winner between the two, but that wasn’t the case.  In the end, it’s more of an anticlimactic realization.  The two browsers are at opposite ends of the spectrum which makes it real hard to truly determine a “best browser.” The winner is really up to you.  This realization was further solidified from initial responses by users on Twitter.  The unofficial vote actually ended up: Stock Browser (22 votes), Dolphin Browser (22 votes) for a perfect 50/50 split.

So, in order to help you decide which browser is right for you (if you haven’t already), decide which group you fall into below (kind of like matchmaking!):

  • Browser #1: You want quick answers from your browser.  You’d rather see a simple layout, simple options, and a functional yet minimalistic feel.  You’d rather not get bogged down in extra options and customizations.
  • Browser #2: You want endless (yet easily accessible) options and don’t mind the complexity that comes with it.  You don’t mind spending time customizing apps so that they fit your specific needs.  You like change.
If you chose Browser #1, stick with the Stock Browser.  If you chose Browser #2, give Dolphin Browser a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Tell us, which browser you have decided on and what were the deciding factors in the end?  Comment below!

Dolphin Browser QR code:

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7 Comments

  1. Dolphin HD. Because of the robust and complicated interface. Also, I am able to double tap zoom.

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